Defender could go the way of Range Rover, spawning multiple models under the Defender name.
Last September, off-roading purists the world over were more than a bit miffed when Land Rover pulled the wraps off of its brand new Defender, revealing a unibody crossover that leans heavily on aluminum alloy for lightweighting. It's hardly your grandfather's Defender.
And the Defender nameplate might head even further in the "soft-roader" direction, as Australia's WhichCar reports that Defender might spawn an entire line of unibody crossover utility vehicles. So far, the nameplate already encompasses the 3-door Land Rover Defender 90 and 5-door Defender 110, but rumors hold that a lengthened version, the Defender 130, might soon follow.
What's more, Land Rover may be working on a shorter-wheelbase version of its current aluminum architecture to underpin subcompact models under the Defender and Discovery brands. If true, we could see a Defender even more diminutive than the 90 materialize in the not-too-distant future.
In a sense, such a move would just be making good on Land Rover's 2013 promises to build out its lineup with an array of luxury (Range Rover), leisure (Discovery, Discovery Sport), and dual-purpose (Defender) models. While Ford prepares to introduce a new Bronco Sport - a small unibody take on its rugged Bronco model - Land Rover currently lacks a subcompact entry.
Of course, none of this has been confirmed, and when WhichCar asked about the possibility of a longer Land Rover Defender 130 model, a company spokesperson told the publication: "[Y]ou shouldn't believe everything you read on the internet." Ouch.
At the very least, it can be said that the new Land Rover Defender shares little if anything with its famously rugged forebear, and that's kind of a shame. The Defender was first introduced in 1983 as essentially a continuation of the Land Rover Series, extending the same basic design into the 2010s for a continuous production run of about 67 years. That's one heck of a legacy to live up to, and the jury's still out on whether the new L663 Defender is up to the task.